Links targets Africa expansion as firm courts Nigerian outfit

Linklaters has renewed its courtship of Nigerian firm Aluko & Oyebode as it steps up its efforts to build its African footprint.

The firm said it is keen on developing its relationship with Aluko, independently of its alliance with South African firm Webber Wentzel, which went live in February this year. 

Discussions have been held recently over how Linklaters can help the Nigerian firm with its technology and working practices as well as developing its lawyers through increasing the number of mutual secondment placements. 

Although one partner at Linklaters said a formal tie-up with Aluko is not “off the cards”, the Nigerian firm, which works with several UK counterparts, insists it wants to remain independent. 

A partner at Aluko said: “As the biggest firm in the country we need to talk to everyone, including magic circle and US firms. 

“We have had talks with these firms on an exclusive and non-exclusive basis, but our market is not as open as Kenya or South Africa and for now we will continue to develop non-exclusive relationships with a number of firms.”

Andrew Jones, projects partner and co-head of Linklaters’ Africa Group said: “We are open to everything; the way we work depends on the jurisdiction. We like to get close to particular firms in jurisdictions but that doesn’t apply to all countries – in some you have more or less choice and there are also capacity issues to deal with. 

You need a certain amount of deal flow in a country to make a tie-up worthwhile for both sides – like with Webbers in South Africa. At the moment there is a real focus on implementing this alliance.” 

Looking beyond Nigeria and South Africa, Linklaters is currently working in more than 40 jurisdictions across Africa, with countries such as Egypt, Cameroon, Morocco, Angola, Ethiopia, DRC, Kenya and Mozambique particularly active.

Related: African Legal Awards 2013 – the winners.